2017-06-04 – Matthew 5:13-16 – Parables of Jesus – This Little Light of Mine, Page 4
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today..
Today we are continuing in our sermon series on the Parables of Jesus.
Last week we went over the parable traditionally called ‘The Two debtors’. It is a beautiful story of love, mercy, and thanksgiving. Although the parable was brief, it shed a bright light upon the dynamics of God’s forgiveness.
Today our parable deals with both Salt and Light. It is from Matthew 5:13, Page 4 of the New Testament of our Bible, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. But first let us Pray…
This parable is part of what is known as Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Jesus opened the Sermon with a section called the Beatitudes, which provide an overview of how those who follow Him ‘Christians’ should live out their faith. Throughout the rest of the Sermon, He expressed further and more detailed principles which build on the Beatitudes.
Jesus provided two metaphors regarding the effectiveness of His disciples and also the potential ineffectiveness of those who do not live out His teachings.
He began with telling His disciples in our verse 13 here, “You are the salt of the earth”. Tell the person sitting next to you “You are the salt of the Earth”.
That phrase is still used in a little in our conversations, but mostly by the older crowd. Other related phrases might be calling someone a Salty Dog, which I believe was a naval term. Now I like salt, and I probably use a little too much salt on a daily basis some could argue. In the ancient world, salt was even much more important than it is today. The Mosaic Law required that sacrifices made in the Temple contained salt, and Roman soldiers received a portion of their wages in salt. Salt was vital for both the flavoring and preservation of food, and both of these uses are significant for the meaning of the metaphor we have today.
A small amount of salt added to food permeates the whole dish making it taste so much better. The attributes spoken of in the Beatitudes and throughout the Sermon on the Mount radiate from a true follower of Jesus and influence others for the better. Thus Christians are like “salt,” flavoring everyone around them.
In the ancient world, salt was also used to preserve food, mainly fish and meat, in keeping them from becoming spoiled or rotten. Likewise the influence of believers in the world can and should impact other individuals and society in a manner that works to preserve good and godly values, and counter that which is ungodly according to Scripture.
I remember being in the Army and in corporate America, and after I made my Christian values known to my workmates, the whole atmosphere in the workplace changed. Have you ever had that happen to you? People are sensitive to each other’s characteristics, good or bad. And although it might saturate and improve your environment, it will also make you a target as well.
Christians are meant to be a positive spiritual and moral force in the world through their example of living-out Jesus’s teachings, doing what they can to emulate Him, and sharing the good news of salvation with others. [pause]
After making this statement that the disciples are the salt of the earth, Jesus went on to speak of disciples who do not live-out His teachings. Those who don’t take on the attributes that He had just spoken of in the Beatitudes. He said:
“but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?
It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”
Bible commentators generally explain that pure salt (sodium chloride) that we enjoy today does not lose its saltiness, however salt in Jesus’s day, since there were no refineries, generally wasn’t pure and thus could be understood as losing its saltiness or taste. Back then salt generally came from the Dead Sea and was more powder-like than our salt is today and it contained a mixture of other minerals as well. Since the actual salt of the mixture was the most soluble, it could be more easily washed out. So if it was exposed to condensation or rain water, it sometimes would be dissolved and removed; and when that happened, though it still looked like salt, the white powder that was left neither tasted like nor had the preserving properties of salt. Frankly it was good for nothing and was therefore cast out as useless.
[Show Package] Ever hear of ‘Himalayan’ Salt? I picked this up at a store in Thompson, IL for Amy. Somebody told me that Himalayan Salt is from the Himalayan Mountains and thus doesn’t have the same pollution as table salt and better. It is pink in color, and I think it does taste a little better. This has the consistency of beach sand but I am pretty sure it tastes a lot better.
The point is made that salt which doesn’t function as salt is useless and loses its value. Similarly like tasteless salt, disciples who lack genuine commitment to function as Christian disciples also become ineffective.
Jesus then used another metaphor in our passages today, pointing out that the disciple’s life is meant to light up the world around them; also that those disciples whose lives do not reveal the Father’s works are like lights which aren’t seen. Jesus said in verse 14:
14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house
[Show Lamp] I got this cool little lamp. It is battery operated and even comes with a remote control. Pretty cool indeed, I just love technology. This cool lamp would lose it’s effectiveness wouldn’t you say if it was covered by a basket?
To complement Jesus’s words here, He also said in John 8:12:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Would you agree with me in saying that our world today so much needs the light of Jesus? I don’t know if you heard or read the news today or not, but a terrorist killed and wounded several on the London Bridge last night. So sad, so evil. God wants to shine a light on the evil of this world, and much of that light He designed to be made visible to the world through His disciples; that would be us ladies and gentlemen. As Jesus said to His Disciples in these verses, we are to be visible, like a city on a hill—which can be clearly seen from far away in the day, and even more so seen at night.
Military Experience: I know I mentioned this before, but when I was in the Army, out in the field at night. Especially when it was dark with overcast sky, if somebody lit a match a mile away, you could see it and therefore they would gave away their position.
Jesus also spoke here of a lamp that provides light within a house. A typical peasant house in Israel contained only one room, so one lamp would effectively light up the entire house. A domestic lamp in Jesus’ day was a shallow bowl of oil with a wick. It was normally stationary, placed on a lampstand. Jesus points out that people would normally put the lamp on the stand to light the whole house; they didn’t put it under a basket where the light can’t be seen. A basket, translated in some Bible versions as a bowl or vessel which was used to measure grain and held about nine liters. It was made from either clay or reeds. Putting such a vessel over the lamp would completely hide the light, and after enough time it would eventually extinguish the light out altogether due to lack of oxygen.
For the lamp to fulfill its purpose of giving light it needs to be visible; so covering the light would be absurd since it would work against the purpose of the lamp.
Likewise, part of the purpose of a disciple is to shed light, and in order to do so, the believer needs to let his or her light shine and their beliefs be seen. To be effective Christians, we are to live in a manner which allows others to see that we are Christian, to see how a life in alignment with Jesus’ teachings is lived. In the same way that a city set on a hill is clearly seen, and a lamp gives light to the whole house, we are to be reflecting the light from God to those we interact with.
Then Jesus said: 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
In contrast, later in this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs His disciples that they shouldn’t let others see when they do good works, which seems at first glance to be in conflict with what He says here. But let’s look more closely at what He says in the next chapter of Matthew 6:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Notice the difference between the two different instructions. Jesus first said “let others see your good works” and then later said “do your good works in secret” . It has to do with one’s motives and reasons for what one does. Are you practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them so they can praise you, or instead, letting your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father. Letting your light shine so that people will see your good works and give God the glory is much different than doing it for the purpose of your own glory.
In living our faith, we are to do all we can to reflect God— by being loving, merciful, and compassionate in our actions; helping others, giving to those in need, etc. Our goal, however, should be to do these things for God’s glory, not our own. Reflecting God’s light not that of our own. Of course, it’s only natural for people who see or hear about our being involved with others in need, to think well of us. But that shouldn’t be the reason we do it. Our purpose for helping others, for putting Jesus’ teaching into action, needs to be our commitment to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is part of who we are as Christians, as our purpose is to live in a way that glorifies God. Since we have become part of God’s family due to our belief in Jesus, we reflect His attributes because He is our Father, and He sent His one and only son to save us. It is out of gratitude knowing we are part of the kingdom of God and therefore exhibit the traits described in the Beatitudes and throughout the Sermon on the Mount.
Being a follower of Jesus and His teachings is meant to set us apart. As Jesus said, You are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world.7 The apostle Peter expressed it this way:
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.
Being a Christian, having the Holy Spirit within us, doing our best to put the things Jesus taught into practice, makes us different.
One time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true).
Disciples of Jesus are the light of the world, and like a city set on a hill which can’t be hidden, like a lamp that gives light to all within the house, we are called to let the light that is within us shine in a manner that others can see, so that they too will want to glorify God. As Christians, we are meant to reflect the light of God into our world in order to light the pathway for others to find Him. It is main part of our job description as a believer.
There is an old song you should remember, “This little Light of Mine”, I have a little music video, it is for children but it is really cute and pertinent to the message today.
We are to be humble living advertisements for Him, drawing people’s attention to the light that shines from within us—reflecting the light of the Spirit of God.
So today in this message, Jesus is calling Christians to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. That is a tough calling for sure, especially when the world seems to be getting darker and darker each day, and effectively
“tasteless” in many ways. But the ironic thing is, the darker and more tasteless the world becomes, the brighter and powerful we as God’s reflection appear.
So in conclusion, to be effective and true to our calling, we must remain salty by staying in His word and protect ourselves from becoming defiled. And we should endeavor to keep our light from being covered or extinguished. Let your light shine dear brother and sister. Let your light shine.
[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..